|by Catherine Siggins|
Bristol Old Vic, In Association with Handspring Puppet Company brings
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
to The Broad Stage -- Santa Monica, CA
|The Midsummer Night's Dream Cast at The Broad Stage Theatre, Santa Monica. (Photo credit: Simon Annand)|
Two young lovers, Hermia & Lysander, flee Athens to escape the wrath of Hermia’s father & the dire judgment of Theseus, Duke of Athens. They are followed by Demetrius, Lysander’s rival with fighting on his mind, who wants Hermia as his bride, & Helena, Hermia’s childhood friend & the woman cruelly jilted by Demetrius, who aims to win her love back at any cost. A troupe of amateur actors rehearses a play for the King’s wedding feast. They all find themselves in the woods outside the city, & fair sport for the fairy land on their feasting night of Midsummer.
When Lysander utters “The course of true love never did run smooth” he really has no idea what is in store for him & his companions in the Athenean woods, or just how fantastical it is to become. For the audience the same is true, as this comedic production beautifully flows from one rich visual image to the next, powered by the skill of a talented ensemble cast under the direction of Tom Morris & Handspring Puppet Company, the creative team behind War Horse. This time the puppets are on a smaller scale for the most part, which fly and swim across the stage like chaotic atoms.
A behind the scenes look at the show
Just as the lovers leave their reality to step into a primal world of magic, so do the audience, thanks to the imaginings of the production team, who succeed in transforming a puppet makers workshop, stylishly designed by Vicki Mortimer & atmospherically illuminated by Philip Gladwell, into a world that shifts and changes as quickly as the whims of it’s fairy master. The cast, dressed as Fair Isle & check shirt sporting hipster crafts folk, carry lengths of wood, which are used to become the confounding forest, Titania’s wings, and barriers to the lovers, under the evocative movement direction of Andrew Dawson. Bric-a-brac from the workshop animates to become an ever-mutating Puck with the deft collaboration of cast members Lucy Tuck, Saikat Ahamed & Fionn Gill. Dave Price’s ethnically inspired music is understated yet mesmerizing, added to by the cast, who provide sound effects, & vocal, rhythmic & musical accompaniment, using lengths of pipe, an oil can drum, & the lengths of wood.
|David Ricardo-Pearce portrays Theseus, in the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” |
at the Broad Stage. (Simon Annand / April 4, 2014)
The cast does a great job working together to create a seamless and exciting journey. Cast members shift effortlessly between their roles and tasks as fairy folk, and with the text they show craft in their singular roles. Alex Felton stands out as Lysander. His passion, delivery, & physical expressiveness were winning. For me, the Mechanicals troupe excels with their stand out work, such delicious playfulness. Vaudeville at it’s best, pratfalls and all. Miltos Yerolemou as Bottom, face down, literally, steals the show, owning every comic pause and heartfelt moment to moving effect.
If you want to escape the craziness of Hollywood & find yourself in an enchanted land full of magical creatures, star-confused lovers, mayhem, & the finest and funniest ass in Los Angeles (watch out Kardashians, you have competition), then hie thee hence to The Broad Stage.
On further reflection, perhaps the fairies do have a hand in what happens in our glittering city. --
For tickets to see the show, click here.
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